7th Circuit People and Events News - U.S. Seventh Circuit
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Recent People and Events Decisions

As we give thanks this year, we wondered, what is there to be thankful for in the Seventh Circuit?

Partly it's that we never stop to consider the court beyond its opinions (and partly it's a slow news week in the Seventh). When we crunched the numbers, we found out there was a lot of great stuff happening in the court of appeals that covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Here are just five of them.

Believe it or not, federal law prohibits disclosing a person's videotape rental records. Congress passed the Video Privacy Protection Act after Judge Robert Bork's video rental history was leaked during his failed nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. (The author of a widely read article on "The Bork Tapes," Michael Dolan, said that the leak was a response to Bork's assertions that only statutes, and not the Constitution, could protect the right to privacy.)

Kevin Sterk and Jiah Jung live in the year 2014. They're users of the DVD-rental service Redbox, and they sued under the video rental history law, claiming that Redbox violated the law by forwarding customer information to a company called Stream.

As you've no doubt read before, Wisconsin state officials are investigating Governor Scott Walker's office for violations of campaign finance laws. The allegations -- which came to light through the Seventh Circuit's inadvertent disclosure of documents -- were that the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a political advocacy organization, had illegally coordinated with Governor Scott Walker's anti-recall efforts.

At the same time a criminal investigation against "John Doe" targets was ongoing, Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board launched its own investigation and subpoenaed documents from the Club for Growth.

7th Cir. Accidentally Releases Gov. Walker Campaign Probe Documents

In 2012, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dodged efforts to recall him after his administration stripped public employees of their union rights. He didn't emerge completely unscathed, however -- shortly after the election, prosecutors began looking into whether members of his administration violated campaign finance laws.

Though two judges have already heard the evidence and ordered prosecutors to back off, the Seventh Circuit is currently hearing those prosecutors' pleas to continue looking into the governor's staff's ties to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a nonprofit conservative group that funneled cash to a number of other conservative PACs that helped Gov. Walker fight back against the recall push.

On Friday, the Seventh Circuit accidentally released confidential documents related to the case. What did those documents show?

You remember Rod Blagojevich, right? The former governor of Illinois who was convicted of corruption for attempting to sell former U.S. Senator Barack Obama's senate seat? (I wonder what happened to that guy?)

Blagojevich and his awesome hair resurfaced in an opinion from the Seventh Circuit on Friday, where the court found there was sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment on a RICO claim against him.

In Woodridge, Illinois, it used to be that everyone who was arrested and then bailed out of jail had to pay a $30 fee. Jerry Markadonatos was arrested for misdemeanor shoplifting, arrested, booked, paid bail, and was released. Later, he pleaded guilty, served 12 months of probation, and then had the charges dismissed.

This misdemeanor and the $30 booking fee, however, led to a big split on an en banc panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. They disagreed on what the problem was, how it applied to Markadonatos, and whether he even had standing in the first place.

Here's a rundown of the Seventh Circuit panel's four separate opinions in Markadonatos v. Village of Woodridge:

The Sixth Circuit is not alone in consolidating appeals of same sex marriage cases within the circuit: last week, the Seventh Circuit consolidated two same sex marriage cases.

The Seventh Circuit also recently decided a case affecting all of the states surrounding the Great Lakes, and is going to hear a case about an Indiana law regulating the sale of cold beer. Finally, our favorite benchslapper speaks out.

Read on for details on all of these stories.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled part of the state's gun laws unconstitutional on Thursday, following the lead of the Seventh Circuit's 2012 decision.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois' High Court ruled that prosecutors must abide by the Seventh Circuit's decision and stop prosecuting any cases in which defendants were charged for merely carrying a weapon in public.

This may only affect a small number of cases, but Illinois gun owners are now a bit more certain of their rights.

Delivered: Our Valentine to Judge Posner

Confession No. 1:

The problem with boldly stating in December -- on the Internet, no less -- a plan to wax poetic about Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner for Valentine's Day is the necessity to follow through come February.

But we promised a sonnet, and a sonnet we shall deliver.

Top 4 Opinions from Judge Richard Posner in 2011

We have a well-documented law crush on Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner. While some people think that public professions of law crushes are odd, we have found that we're not alone in our admiration for this particular jurist.

Every time we discuss Judge Posner with a fellow attorney, we hear the same thing: You love Judge Posner? I love him, too.

With that in mind, we're pandering to the Posner-philes and capping off the first week of 2012 with some of our favorite Posner-penned opinions of 2011.